Almost Ridiculously Amazing: Etsy!

(More than 2 weeks without a blog post...yee-IKES! Sorry for slacking! Life is always busy busy busy, as I'm sure ya'll can relate!)

This post has been a long time coming! I've been wanting to write about my new love affair...

(Love these adorable vintage tulle corsage shoe clips! You can find 'em at the Etsy shop here!)

If you have not yet become acquainted with the vast awesomeness that is Etsy...

You NEED to.

And I don't just mean introduced!

Most anyone who likes pretty things and has the internet has heard of Etsy....

...has probably at least given a passing glance to Etsy...

But I guarantee if you really sit down with Etsy for awhile, search it out, get to know all that it has to offer...

You. Will. Be. Amazed.

If by chance you're not that familiar with it, this is the best way to describe it:

It is the largest craft fair in the *world* -- online. It consists of hundreds...or probably more like thousands...of individual sellers and shops, selling any kind of product hands can make: blankets, quilts, clothes, dresses, costumes, jewelry, bath & beauty products, home decor, party decor, craft supplies, photography, art, even shippable edible items. It's also a wonderful resource for buying and selling vintage items.

Etsy is a place where people with creative talents can truly shine, and share their art with those who will truly admire and appreciate it!

One thing I love so much about Etsy is how it empowers people...most of them women...to use their talents, to do what they love, and support themselves doing it. It connects those who are artists in the handmade community with those who are searching for handmade products that they can't find locally or they can't create themselves. This amazing online marketplace has created opportunities for people with artistic and creative abilities to overcome the concept of "starving artist" and become successful entrepreneurs!

I also think Etsy has helped promote a resurgence in the popularity of domestic skills. Generations ago some of those skills...like sewing...were common across the board. Now sewing skills have become a prized commodity, especially as some say it's become a "dying art." Well, I think Etsy is proof positive that it's not a dying art anymore! People have started to appreciate more and more the value of buying beautiful, quality handmade items directly from the creators.

Etsy gets me excited...can you tell? =)

And for good reason! It provides a way to search what is essentially on online database of artisans from all over the world! If I want something hand-made...pretty much anything at all...chances are I can find someone who's either already selling it, or someone who could be commissioned to make it. The possibilities are endless!!!

For example...I really wanted Kara to have a beautiful handmade party dress for her birthday. But, I don't sew. At all. I do know several people who can sew, but only do so on occasion, and I waited way too long to ask someone to make me a dress. So, I took to Etsy!

It wasn't long before I came across the shop Vintage Pearl. This gorgeous boutique is absolute eye candy, filled with oodles of incredibly lovely and unique vintage-inspired clothing, jewelry and hair accessories. Shop owner Angela (a wife and mother to 3 beautiful girls) impressed me immediately with not only her obvious talent as a seamstress and a designer, but her talents as a photographer as well. And did I mention? She's completely gorgeous and models many of her creations herself.

Yep, that's her!

As part of her shop description she wrote:

"Years of desiring unique vintage clothing for my girls and photography clients inspired me to create my own! To be both photographer and designer allows me complete creative control. This keeps inspiration from each idea's beginning to the photographing and listing of my item, as well as the love of creating a unique piece for my customers, complete when I ship my art off to it's new home! It is a joy from start to finish for me."

To me, that perfectly sums up the fabulous concept of Etsy! It's a place where artists can truly find fulfillment doing what they love and make beautiful creations that other people can not only enjoy, but be inspired by as well! I can tell you right now....using Etsy has me more and more excited to learn to sew! Because every single one of those crazy-talented seamstresses was a beginner once too, right?

Sorry...I keep schmoozing. =) Back to my dress search...

As I looked through Angela's creations, I fell in absolute love with this aqua and rose floral fabric in one of her dresses that she stated was "rare and out of print."

However, the style of dress I loved the most was her knot dress with apron (also in gorgeous vintage-inspired fabrics).

I sent Angela a message through Etsy asking her if she could create a custom dress for me, made with the beautiful aqua floral fabrics but in the style of a knot dress with apron instead of a sundress. She was so accomodating and created an absolutely perfect dress for me! And not only that...I let her know that I was kind of late getting around to ordering a dress and asked if I could make a rush order. From the date of that first conversation to the day the dress arrived on my doorstep was a grand total of about 7 days!

Kara looked so beautiful in her special dress....like a darling little milkmaid. Perfect for her shabby chic 1st birthday party!

One more thing that enamors me about Etsy is that I love the idea of purchasing things that can become heirlooms and keepsakes. I wanted Kara's party dress to be something special, and even though I couldn't make it myself, I took a small part in it's creation. I imagined what I wanted, then I looked and looked until I found someone who could help me make my little vision a reality. And not only was it perfect for her first birthday, it will be something I will cherish for a lifetime! And if I'm lucky, maybe I'll get to see it on my little granddaughter someday. =)

I also ordered some beautiful fabric bunting banners for Kara's party, through the Etsy shop Blue Sky Bunting. The shop owner Judith was actually located in England, but I was so in love with these beautiful and hard-to-find specialty fabrics ("Tilda" fabrics by Tone Finnanger, a European designer) that I paid to have these banners shipped "across the pond." Judith was an absolute pleasure to work with! I must admit, I've never been to England, but I'm a sucker for romantic British literature, and I love England for all of it's beauty and history. It gives me a little bit of glee knowing these banners have a touch of British charm! I can't wait to be able to reuse them for tea parties and fun phootshoots!

I adored the "mini" bunting that I used on my mantle...so tiny and sweet!
It will have a permanent home in my daughter's bedroom!

If you love the bunting banner trend, another one of my favorite Etsy shops is Starlit Nest. Shop owner Alison makes not only amazing banners, but gorgeous coordinating quilts and doll quilts! I plan to purchase some of her items for some fun photoshoot ideas I have...probably the only reason I haven't ordered yet is because I have no idea how to decide between her hundreds of gorgeous designs!

I also discovered a little secret about Etsy that I have to share with you:

If you need someone to design a logo, a blog template, an invitation or most any kind of printable product, Etsy is a fantastic place to look for graphic design services! Many designers have premade options but will customize designs for you as well.

I wanted to have a beautiful invitation made for Kara's birthday, and I lucked out when I found Clarissa of Poofy Prints! I loved her style and contacted her asking if she could design a custom invitation for me. Even though she was technically taking a break from her work at the time, she was incredibly kind and agreed to create one for me. I ended up having her design adorable matching cupcake toppers and favor tags as well. And she was able to rush all the designs for me!

See how amazing all these artists are? I could go on and on! My first experiences with Etsy were 200% positive and every shop owner was wonderful to work with! I gotta say...the more I interact with people in the crafting/handmade community, the more I come to see that they are so incredibly *nice*! It's all the more fun buying pretty things when the people you're buying them from are genuinely friendly and kind!

So if you haven't ever used Etsy...go check it out! If you've looked into it just a tiny bit, go search around a bit more...you'll be surprised at the vast offerings and just how specific you can make your searches! And if you already know and love Etsy, well...I'm happy to join your club. ;)

Here's a few more shops I'm in love with:

Little Town Boutique - Etsy is *the* place to look if you're looking for pretty hair accessories for girls and ladies! There are *gazillions*! I first heard of Little Town Boutique through the fabulous photographer Skye Johansen. She's been photographing my kids for 3 years now and she has the most gorgeous (and ginormous!) collection of headbands and flowers, many from Little Town! That's my little newborn baby girl modeling one of their pretty creations.

The Wheatfield - This shop is brimming with cute, colorful, whimsical and inspirational art prints! I love this "What a Wonderful World" print. But really, I could buy every single thing in this shop!

Yvette Inufio Photography - Oh my. Yvette creates the most delicious and dreamy vintage-inspired photographs! She states that all the indoor photographs are taken inside her own home...I wanna go live with her! I love this print, titled "There's a party in my room and my only guest is the light."
Kandid Designs - Katie offers professional logo and marketing designs, and I love her style! All her logos are so classy with just the right touch of whimsy. Most of her logos are premade, but you can have her tweek them or customize them to look just how you want! Someday...someday, I hope to be a photographer, and looking through this shop makes me want to pick out a name and get a logo right now, just for the fun of it! (Am I the only weirdo who loves a good logo?)

Like I said...I could go on and on! Don't let me take any more of your time...get Etsy-in'! ;)

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